Study of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Pike River Sediment
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Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) are organic compounds constructed with two or more aromatic rings. Many of these compounds are considered probable carcinogens by the EPA and can cause adverse health effects in aquatic organisms. They are a byproduct of the incomplete combustion of carbon and are released by the burning of fossil fuels. Significant anthropogenic sources of PAHs include the dissolution of coal-tar sealants or large spills of oil-based products. As a result, industrial sites and other sources such as sealed pavement can cause problematic concentrations in the environment. The Pike River flows through southeast Wisconsin into Lake Michigan. The North Pike and Pike River are listed as impaired by the DNR, which has raised concern within the community and prompted remediation efforts. The history of industrial activity in this region suggests the potential for PAH contamination, but no previous data had been collected. In this study, sediment samples were collected from 5 sites in the Pike River. Each sample was extracted, cleaned, and analyzed for 16 EPA priority pollutant PAHs using a GC-MS. The results provide a baseline for future monitoring through the Root-Pike Watershed Initiative.